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Amherst refuses to stop work on Hyatt project over pond complaints

Amherst will not stop work on the site of the Hyatt Place project on Main Street in Snyder, despite complaints from adjoining residents that construction runoff has caused a distinct “chocolate milk” appearance in their private pond.

The Livingston Parkway Homeowners Association believes that runoff from the hotel construction site has polluted Mike’s Pond.

It’s the latest in the residents’ ongoing fight against the proposed $15 million, six-story hotel being built by Iskalo Development.

“Saturday it was raining pretty heavy, and I got beautiful video of this brown, silky crap just pouring into the pond from the Iskalo site where they’re doing construction,” said Raymond Paolini, president of the homeowners association.

“It’s a combination of clay, dust and concrete runoff,” Paolini speculated. “Even if it’s a nontoxic substance, it’s totally detrimental to the ecology of the pond, and it fills it up with silt, too. There’s no going back when you pour this stuff into a tiny body of water.”

The homeowners association – composed of six Livingston households that share the private pond – on Tuesday asked Amherst Building Commissioner Thomas Ketchum to suspend the building permit for the hotel project until the problem is remedied.

“I am not going to do that, because we have no violation out there,” Ketchum told The Buffalo News on Wednesday.

Amherst inspectors and the town’s consultant on stormwater management were at the site and reported that the runoff was not coming from the construction site, Ketchum said.

They believe that the recent heavy rains caused runoff from an undisturbed 40-foot swath of land between the edge of the pond and a silt fence that was built on the construction site to prevent runoff, he said.

“Everybody who has reported back to me has reported there is no runoff coming from the construction area,” he said.

Homeowners, meanwhile, are still waiting for a judge’s ruling on their legal challenge to the project approvals granted by the town’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Pending the ruling, residents were granted a temporary restraining order that limits the clearing of the site and the construction of the building to a single story.

In a related matter, the homeowners association on Wednesday said it has filed a no-trespassing suit to prevent the developer from channeling water from the hotel parking lots into the pond, as detailed in the site plan, Paolini said.